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Tuesday, 6 March 1973
Page: 200

Mr FULTON (LEICHHARDT, QUEENSLAND) - Will the Minister for Northern Development take appropriate action to ensure that soft drink manufacturers in north Queensland are able to purchase sugar at the same price as it is being made available to the brewery in Cairns for the manufacture of beer? As both beer and soft drinks are most important to people living in tropical Queensland what is the reason for the difference in sugar pricing?

Dr PATTERSON (DAWSON, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Northern Development) - The honourable member will be aware of the provisions of the Sugar Agreement Act, which Act in fact determines the price of refined sugar in Australia for domestic use. Two basic grades are 1A and IXD, for which the price is a little over $200 per ton. Other grades of sugar are related to these grades. The sugar used by breweries usually is regarded as liquid brown. It is of a somewhat lower quality than the sugar used in soft drinks or, indeed, in canned fruits. For this reason, the sugar is made available at a lower price. The honourable member will also be aware that the sugar industry is extremely awake to the problem of substitutes and in recent years there has been a concentration on certain sugar substitutes - starches as well as the cyclamatic acids - particularly for industrial use. That is another reason why the sugar is supplied at a lower price. The honourable member will also recall that, under the legislation, the base price system fixes the price at the Brisbane price plus freight. That is another reason for the price differential. I can well understand the honourable member's interest in this problem because people in north Queensland have certainly established a remarkable capacity for the consumption of beer, soft drinks and, in fact, even water.

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